Teeshay Shah is an Indian actor and director, known for Perfect Girl (2015), Blood Money (2012), Gulmohar Grand (2015) and Hiraeth (2018).
1. For the people who might not know you, who are you and what do you do?
Namaste, Salut, Hola Hello, I’m Teeshay. I’m from Mumbai, India. Lived there all my life. 2 years ago I came to LA to explore the land called Hollywood. Speaking of which I am an Actor and TV host. I also enjoy Directing, Producing and Writing.
2. How did you become involved in the entertainment industry?
It’s an interesting story. When I was in college I had a lot of free time. My uncle who’s a Director told me one day that I should maybe utilize that free time and model. He said I have the perfect face for it. In no time I bagged a Cola Commercial with one of the biggest superstars from India. That experience never left me. I went back to my studies, finished my engineering program and started looking for regular 9-5 jobs. Soon I realized, a corporate job wasn’t for me. And the thought of acting dawned upon me. I said to myself, “if I can get a huge commercial without any acting chops, I am sure that with hard work I could do well and more importantly do something I actually love”. I gave myself 6 months, trained in Acting, Dance, Martial Arts and then started auditioning. I bagged a film in the first 3 months after that and as they say, there was no looking back from there.
3. You wrote and directed the short film “Hiraeth”. Can you tell us more about it?
I did. I was looking to make a short film but I was absolutely sure that the subject had to be current and had to have a social message with it. I was also sure that it had to be entertaining and not boring or self -indulgent. As luck would have it, I came across a very moving story of a man who had everything in life when war struck his nation and he suddenly became an immigrant. He lost everything except his family. The biggest pain for him was leaving his nation, his birthplace. I’d like to add that the entire crew came on board for free because they loved the subject and wanted to be part of something relevant.
4. The film deals with immigration. What determined you to write about this subject?
It’s an important event in recent times. I have not taken sides or painted it black or white. When you see the film you will realize that the event fits well in the story and that’s why I chose to incorporate it.
5. What do you want for people to take from this film?
Everything is on social media these days. I don’t claim for my film to be an eye-opener or anything of that sort. At the same time, a lot of people don’t know what happens in the life of a refugee. Our film contributes a little to showcasing that world, but in an entertaining way.
6. What do you love most about your job as an artist?
The love and respect that you receive from people are paramount. I also love the idea of working with so many different brilliant creative minds at once. To see what they have to offer and to collaborate with them gives me immense joy and pleasure.
7. What is your best memory from any set?
It has to be this car commercial I shot with 3 legends of world cricket. They are my idols. Because it was a small set (The car was parked in the conference room of a 5-star hotel) I got to spend 5-6 hours of the shoot inside the car with them listening to their stories and banter. They treated me like their buddy and I was literally in a surreal world for that day. All my friends and well-wishers openly expressed how jealous they were of me, haha.
8. Who are some artists that you admire and why?
I absolutely love Leonardo Di Caprio. I recently read that he is one of the only stars who hasn’t succumbed to acting in “superhero” movies and the big commercial blockbuster movies. I admire his film choices and also his contribution to the environment change. I also admire The Rock. He is such a family man and that reflects in his movies. I love his journey from where he started. Recently I have fallen in love with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the star of the show Fleabag. She is absolutely brilliant and magical in the show. I admire her talent and wish I had that sort of comic timing.
9. What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
To be a little more patient than impulsive.
10. What do you have in mind for the future?
I am currently writing a feature film. It’s my baby. It’s my everything. It’s a dream to see it made. God willing we will make it by next year.
11. Do you have any advice to aspiring actors who want to get started in the industry?
Don’t ever stop training. Learning is key. Don’t let it stop no matter what your situation is.
12. What are some causes that are dear to your heart and hope to bring more awareness to in the future?
Mental health amongst South Asians in the USA is something which is hidden under the blanket and in some cases considered as taboo. I have already hosted a couple of segments on TV for the LA county of mental health. I hope to bring about a change in my own small way and raise awareness. A cause which is dear to my heart is taking care of people in their old age. Giving them love and attention. People don’t realize that they did it for you when you were young, now it’s your time to pay back and take care of them.
Thank you so much to Teeshay for the interview. You can find out more about him and his work on:
Photo Credit: Ash Gupta